Finding support for you and your family after baby loss
7 Min Read
The death of a baby causes a ripple effect which impacts the whole family. They will all handle this trauma differently and each one of them will feel pressures from society to grieve in a certain way. Understandably, after a baby dies, the focus is usually on the birth parent, because there is a belief that the death of the baby, particularly if they were stillborn, was ‘worse’ as they had to physically go through the pregnancy and labour. As a result, non-birthing partners and other family members can downplay their own emotional trauma, which can have a negative impact on their grieving process.
It is important that anyone affected by baby loss, regardless of their relationship to the baby, recognises that they have also suffered an horrendous loss. For some, this may mean focusing their time and energy on supporting the parents or specifically the mum/birth parent. This can be a healthy and vital way of processing their grief. It is just important to recognise when they need help and support themselves, and knowing that it is available.
Support for Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins after baby loss
The excitement and anticipation of a new baby’s arrival is often felt by the whole family. This baby may be the first grandchild or niece etc or they may be the sixth, but the anticipation and love for that child has already filtered through the whole family before their arrival. Each person will have lost something different and unique; a chance to be their cool aunt, the doting grandmother who teaches them how to bake or the sporty cousin who dreamt of having someone to play catch with.
Each and every single person in the family will feel a sense of personal loss whilst also sharing the grief of the parents – their own child, sibling or relative. This can intensify their feelings and they may need additional support to help them cope with this or simply somewhere to share their story. There can be a certain reluctance to do this where organisations or groups are predominantly aimed at the parents. However, this should never prevent anyone from getting the help they need.
Support for siblings of the baby and younger family members after baby loss
Whilst dealing with your own devastation, you may need to tell a child that their long-awaited brother, sister, or cousin has passed away. There may be a strong natural instinct to try and protect them from what has happened, but a child’s imagination is vivid. When something bad has happened that they cannot make sense of, it can also be a terrifying and overwhelming place as they recognise from the way we act that something awful has happened and try to fill in the blanks.
Lots of charities provide resources which can help you manage these discussions and I have listed a few below:-
- Support for bereaved Siblings after the death of a child – The Lullaby Trust
- Child Bereavement UK: Explaining stillbirth or miscarriage to a young child – YouTube
- Sands Bereavement Support Book | Sands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity (Supporting Children starts on page 59 of the booklet).
I don’t for a moment underestimate how difficult these conversations are to have, especially when you are trying to navigate your own grief. Ultimately, you need to decide what is right for you and your family.
Support for Dads and non-birthing partners after losing a child
As I have written about previously, we often talk to fathers who feel there is a lack of support for them, and that they can face extra pressure after losing their baby. As family dynamics continue to change and evolve, we also need to acknowledge that not every non-birthing partner is going to fall into the category of “dad”.
Non-birthing partners in same-sex, non-binary or genderfluid relationships may also face an additional struggle because their relationship to the baby is not always understood or acknowledged. This minimisation of loss by professionals or friends and family can then intensify the emotions surrounding the loss still further, making it even more important to find a source of support.
What emotional support is available after losing a baby?
The majority of baby loss charities are open to everyone, regardless of their relationship to the baby, but it can be reassuring before contacting a charity or support group to know that they have experience that allows them to relate to your unique situation.
We have listed a few of these more general charities and support sites below, plus some that focus specifically on support for particular demographics. We hope that everyone impacted by baby loss feels able to reach out to these organisations and understands that they are not alone.
The Legacy of Leo
- Leo was born sleeping in 2016. One of his mums, Jess, has collected a series of stories from the LGBTQ+ community regarding baby loss. This is to help ensure everyone can find a family like theirs who has also experienced the devastation of baby loss, helping families to feel less isolated and alone. Their stories, as well as a list of other resources, can be found here: #LGBTBabyLoss – The Legacy of Leo.
- Jess also created a series called Diversity in Loss – The Legacy of Leo which includes many stories covering a wide range of different types of baby loss. Again, helping to combat the feelings of isolation by helping people find a voice that more closely matches their own.
Sands and Sands United FC
- Sands | Stillbirth and neonatal death charity are a UK based charity who provide bereavement support services to anyone impacted by baby loss.
- Sands United FC | Sands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity is a unique way for bereaved family members to come together through a shared love of football. It provides a support network where members can feel comfortable and talk about their grief when ready. There are multiple teams across the UK and each team member proudly honours their baby by displaying their names on their kit.
- Aching Arms are a UK based charity which aims to provide a comfort bear to every parent impacted by baby loss, from another family who has also experienced baby loss. Each Aching Arms bear wears a personalised, handwritten label with the name of the baby in whose memory the bear was dedicated. If a parent did not receive a bear in hospital, they can request one here: Request a comfort bear from baby loss charity Aching Arms
- Aching Arms have recently introduced their new ‘Dandelion Bear’. Dandelion is an undedicated bear which can be purchased and sent to other family members, so they can benefit from the same comfort that the Aching Arms Bear brings. Comfort bears from Aching Arms
- Supporting Arms is a flexible call back service open to anyone in the UK impacted by baby loss. When you call, text or email on 07464 508994 or firstname.lastname@example.org someone from the charity will contact you within 72 hours, to arrange a convenient time to talk.
Daddy’s with Angels
- Home | Daddy’s With Angels | Bereavement Support Daddy’s with Angels provide support to those who have experienced the death of a child at any age. They run separate Facebook groups for dads and other members of the family. The groups provide a safe place for men and their families to open up about their feelings and breakdown any feelings of isolation. Their website also contains articles that bereaved dads may find helpful.